President Obama renewed his efforts to tackle climate change in a speech this afternoon at Georgetown University. The president outlined his strategy for reducing carbon emissions and his vision for the United States’ role in the global warming battle.
“The question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry and physics and millions of measurements, has put all that to rest,” the president insisted. “So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it is too late.”
Obama issued a presidential directive to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordering it to draft more rules for reducing carbon emissions. This represents a deliberate sidestep around Congress, which does not need to approve new EPA regulations. Among these, the president wants the first federal regulations on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by coal-generated power plants. Obama also hopes to generate enough energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind to power the equivalent of 6 million homes by 2020.
“The president has always been hostile to affordable sources of American energy that power most of our economy, but this program – which amounts to a National Energy Tax – only escalates his attack,” House Speaker John Boehner said.
Obama also called on foreign countries to join the United States in the battle against climate change. He emphasized the need for America to act as a leader in carbon reduction efforts.
The president didn’t hesitate to blame Republicans for his lack of progress on climate change, labeling it a partisan issue and zeroing in on the delay of his nomination of Gina McCarthy as administrator of the EPA.
“I don’t have patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat earth society,” Obama remarked.
The president also commented on the proposed Keystone XL Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which is currently under review by the State Department. “Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” he said. “The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”
Earlier this morning, the New York Times reported comments from Daniel P. Schrag, a member of the presidential science panel that has counseled the White House on climate change issues.
“Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed,” Schrag said.
Indeed, despite the president’s insistence that new standards on carbon emissions will not reduce the amount of jobs, such regulations will clearly have a negative effect on the coal industry. Wind and solar power cannot easily bridge the gap that new carbon standards will produce, and that will mean putting more Americans at coal-fired plants out of work.
On the bright side, Obama himself admitted that it will take quite a bit of time for these policies to take effect. It’s taken him this long to specifically address an issue that he laid out in his first presidential campaign, and his use of the presidential directive doesn’t mean that his orders will be smoothly implemented. The legal standards for coal plants could be challenged in court. In addition, the EPA must work with the states to put regulations in place, a process that could take several years.
Let’s hope that the time it takes to implement these policies will allow the American people to realize the disadvantages of such coercive and far-reaching green fantasies.
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